Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form. We do not have a queue at this time which means if you submit it will be posted next week.
[hr color=”light-gray” width=”50″ border_width=”5″ ]
Loren Smith could clearly remember the first time he met Eliot Devlin, and it was because his mom made him.
“Go next door and say ‘hi’ to the new neighbors, Loren,” she said, pushing him out the front door. “I hear they have a little boy. Maybe he’ll be someone you can play with.” When she shut the door firmly behind him, Loren knew there would be ‘consequences’ if he tried to go back inside. There were always consequences.
So he made his way down the sidewalk to the house next door and stood tentatively near the huge moving van. There were no kids around that he could see; in fact, he didn’t see anyone except sweaty moving guys that said bad words under their breath as they pushed little carts stacked with boxes and furniture up to the house. He wondered how long he should stand there before going home and telling his mom that he’d tried, he really had.
He felt sometimes like his mom didn’t like him much. He might be only six, but he could tell. She always acted like he was in her way, or on her nerves. Maybe it had something to do with him being a “late-in-life baby.” He didn’t really know what that meant exactly, but he’d heard his Aunt Rose talking about him with Mom one day when they’d thought he was watching a movie in the den.
“How’s Loren doing in first grade?” Aunt Rose had asked, and Loren stopped just outside the kitchen where he’d been intending to grab a juice box and some cookies.
Water was running in the kitchen sink, and it drowned out the first part of his mom’s reply. When it shut off, he heard her say, “ – just so glad I don’t have to pay almost $1,500 a month for daycare anymore. Now all we have to pay is the after-school care. Thank God for public education.”
“You never considered staying home with him, Lisa?”
Loren’s mom had snorted a laugh that sounded kind of angry to Loren, and he waited to hear what she’d say. “Are you kidding me? When I’d finally finished my degree and landed my dream job? There was no way I was going to put that on hold for a baby, not at my age. Who gets pregnant at 45 years old? That’s just embarrassing.”
Aunt Rose laughed too, and to Loren it sounded a little like a witch’s cackle. “We were all so shocked when we heard the news, talk about a “late-in-life” baby! And my brother in his early 50s! I loved calling him a randy old goat and watching him turn red.”
His mom said something else, but Loren didn’t hear it, had gone back to his movie without ever getting his snack.
Loren’s mom and dad did work all the time. He was proud of his dad, uncle and older brother, who were all cops. He loved seeing them in their uniforms, knowing that they were out arresting bad guys. That’s what he was gonna do someday, just like them. He wasn’t exactly sure what his mom did, but she wore a pretty suit and went to work every day, not coming home until sometimes after Loren was in bed. He knew deep down that his family loved him, they told him that all the time, but they were so busy. And he was lonely.
Since there were no other kids in his neighborhood, he was a little excited at the thought that maybe now there would be someone to play with. Loren nervously tugged his Pokémon t-shirt down over his pudge, and peered up at the neighbors’ house. He hoped the kid would be nice, not like that jerk Bobby LaMotte at school who called Loren a “piggy” while he made oinking noises.
The moving van guys unloaded what looked like a kid’s bike, a cool bike with Transformers stickers on it. That was promising. Loren liked Transformers, although his favorite was Pokémon. Maybe the new kid liked Pokémon too.
The hissing whisper in his ear made Loren jump and scream a little. He hoped it didn’t sound like a girlie scream. He whirled around, and there stood a skinny little blond boy, hair sticking up everywhere, dirt smudged over his face.
“’Sup?” Loren tried to be cool like his big brother Chase, who was in college. The kid grinned at him, showing several missing teeth. The boy was so thin he looked like he might blow away in a storm, and Loren had never seen such big green eyes before.